I heard of a possible unilateral declaration of Scottish Independence from the late Robin Cook MP in 1983 at the Labour Party Conference in Perth City Hall. I asked Robin about Labour’s prospects at the election. We will win Scotland, we agreed but it looked like another Thatcher victory due to English dominance of seat numbers.
He then said ‘How can we let the Scottish people suffer another Tory government hell-bent on union destruction and driving down living standards? I am seriously considering leading all Scottish Labour MP’s over the burning bridge to join with the SNP and declare UDI’.
Robin Cook contemplated UDI but clearly forces within the Scottish party stopped him. Labour has tended to make the mistake of equating their own jobs-worth interests in Scotland as the national interest of the Scottish people and by 1983 Gordon Brown had forgotten his statement of principle in the Red Book for Scotland that if the Union of 1707 stopped serving the interests of the working people of Scotland it should end. Labour do not serve the interests of the people of Scotland otherwise they would acknowledge that there has never been equality between England and Scotland since the Union of 1707. As the McCrone reports of 1974 and 1975 show all the cream of profit from North Sea Oil has been taken from Scotland and spent on England, with projects such as upgrading the north and south circular road in London, the M25 and the Channel Tunnel also paid for from the ‘bonanza’ of NSO. Economically, Scotland has been robbed and impoverished by subsequent Westminster governments.
Better Together kid themselves by asserting that the referendum vote on 18th Sept expressed the settled will of the Scottish people. Nothing could be further from reality. Project Fear turned to Project Hysteria in the last two weeks and unleashed the most vicious forces of what was a Westminster-led ideological war upon the Scottish people to kill confidence, kill hope, and undermine the idea that Scots were even capable of running their own affairs. Economic collapse and calamity would ensue if we DARED to vote Yes, huge retail price hikes would be instantaneous, pensions would cease the day after the vote. Essentially we were told DO NOT DARE to VOTE YES – WE OWN YOU AND YOU WILL OBEY YOUR MASTERS!
It went right off the Richter Scale of political discourse. The 3 riders of the Apocalypse rode among our cities like ‘Murder’ in Shelley’s Mask of Anarchy. Those who think themselves the rulers of Scotland raged their venom via our tv screen and newspapers they own, telling us what they would do if we dared to think for ourselves. So, by any standards, the will of the Scottish people was among some groups, especially the elderly, that of fear, panic and some were petrified. Thugs who would deliberately do this to any community would be judged as criminals and brought to court and sentenced.
The day of reckoning is coming for the Project Fear masters at the ballot box on 7th May 2015.
Ruth Davidson MSP and her Labour cohorts are naive in the extreme to believe there was ‘intimidation’ on both sides of the Referendum debate given the state sponsored ideological war that raged upon the concerns of the people of Scotland in the last weeks of the Referendum. The egg thrown at Jim Murphy was idiotic. Some stupid unpleasant comments on the internet from either side pails to a drop in the ocean compared to the authoritarian anti-democratic abuse orchestrated from Downing Street, aided and abetted by the Scottish Labour crew. The will of the Scottish people could not have been more unsettled, muddied, insulted, scared and in some cases petrified. I saw the fear in pensioner’s eyes while campaigning. In old Scots parlance, it was Keep yer fit on their neck. Endless intimidation was the essential buckshot in Project Fear’s armoury.
I, like others, have suggested, since the referendum result, that the Yes Campaign should be maintained and work together at the next election in tandem with the SNP where only one Pro-Independence campaign is fielded in each constituency. This would allow candidates to come from the wide spectrum of the Yes Campaign, if talents such as Iain McWhirter, Jeane Freeman, Lesley Riddoch, Blair Jenkins, David Hayman, Carol Fox, Cat Boyd, Colin Fox , Liam O’Hare, Jonathon Shafi and hopefully others if they are prepared to stand as pro-Independence candidates unopposed by SNP candidates. This makes sense on many levels. Yes literature, car stickers, badges, flags, T-shirts and so on are already made. No need for a new marketing brand for a new organisation. We all know what Yes Scotland stand for. This co-operation needs agreement at senior level but as an SNP councillor In would be more than happy for this community wide approach. Together we awoke a new civic voice in Scottish democracy and its structure is still extant and needs to continue.
If there is a majority of Pro-Independence MP’s elected on 7th May 2015 there are various scenarios that might play out. One is that the majority of SNP and Yes Scotland MP’s will compel Westminster to deliver on Devo-max. But Devo-max will not provide the oil and gas revenues to Scotland needed to kick start Scotland out of austerity. England and rUK need that tax take to pay their stupendous debts. We will still have weapons of species obliteration in the Holy loch. £100 billion wasted on the Empire mindset phallic symbol of world status that gives the egos of Westminster ‘global influence’ to bomb kill and create more Terrorism in the name of peace and stability. We will not have enough funds to eradicate food banks and grotesque socially engineered austerity and poverty wages and socially engineered unemployment which is designed to keep wages as low as possible. Thatcherism started the process of social engineering and it has been continued by every government since, Blue or Red. Tories all. The Prime Minister and Gordon Brown differ on the Vow and are now promising different powers to our parliament. Brown is in a panic that Scotland might get control of raising and spending income tax because that might cause problems for British Labour in London – he is fixated on helping Labour, not the people of Scotland. The vow is in tatters already. Christine Graham MSP was right when she said the relationship between Scotland and London is now over, even if the vote was a majority for the No camp. If Westminster politicians cant even agree on what level of ‘Devo-Max’ they promised, what will they deliver?
Labour has already lost Scotland. Whatever the result next May. They could not face the people of Scotland in public meetings. They hid from the people. They were scared to debate with Yes Scotland speakers. They were scared of the people of Scotland. One or two did on a small scale. They hunted in packs. They had meetings where people were invited via email. Selected members of the small crowds. Vetted. Secret venues. This was the behaviour of the people’s representatives! What happened to the once proud, open and democratic voices in the Old Labour Labour party I once was a member of? They are dead. Labour have lived in a power ‘bubble’ of their own self-importance for so long now, they don’t even know they are in a bubble. Bubbles burst.
I believe the grass-roots Yes Scotland campaign should, if we (SNP and Yes Scotland candidates) win a majority of seats in May, make a unilateral declaration of Independence and demonstrate peacefully with unswervingly disciplined law-abiding behaviour, from the day after the election result, in every city of Scotland and demand action from our new MP’s and the Scottish Government. Such a demonstration would not be to usurp the authority of our elected Members or Scottish government, but to show that Scotland is ready for major change, whether that be for full ‘Devo-Max’ or demands for another Referendum or negotiations for Independence should be left to the political leadership of Scotland. Nor would it be wise to call for an occupation of all cities to go on until demands are met, which would be a recipe for confrontation. It is the job of elected representatives and leaders to lead and to speak our collective voice: demonstrations are a way of making that voice heard loud and clear.
A close examination of electoral statistics for Westminster governments from 1945 show that no government elected in that period had the authority of 50% or more of the total votes cast at any election. All took power with under 50% of votes cast. Two governments were elected with around 35% of votes cast.
Indeed, when we consider the 40% rule imposed upon the vote at the 1979 Scottish referendum for a Scottish Assembly, and look at the governments elected to Westminster it will come as no surprise to readers that no government since 1945 obtained 40% of the total electorate in their favour. The iron cast stipulation of the 40% rule made for the vote in 1979 was therefore a deliberate stitch-up to postpone the creation of a Scottish Assembly. Labour are not to be trusted and neither are the Tories whatever Vow they make.
So, if today’s Yougov speculation comes true and there are 26 or more SNP/Pro-Independence candidates elected on 7th May, I would suggest that a unilateral declaration of Independence should be considered by grass-roots Yes Scotland campaigners as a means of keeping the feet to the fire of the Westminster elites, be they Blue or Red Tories. If we elect a majority of MP’s for Pro-Independence candidates and have one or two more MP’s that Labour, then a claim of right for UDI may be subject to question. However, if Yes Scotland/SNP win by 5 or 6 more MP’s than Labour in Scotland then the case for UDI is clear because that would put Yes Scotland/SNP around 10% ahead in seats. First past the post governments in the UK have always taken power, even with around 35% of the vote, so Scottish UDI should be seriously considered if we win a large victory in May.
I would attest that around 20% of the NO votes in the Referendum were cast due to fear and panic and therefore the vote may remain legal and binding, BUT it was a pyrrhic victory with intimidation at its core and does not represent the settled will of the Scots people. It may be far sooner rather than later that our new First Minster can echo the words of Nye Bevan and say ‘We were the dreamers, we were the sufferers, now we are the builders’. Scotland must be Independent for the sake of all our people.
Patrick S Hogg is an SNP councillor in North Lanarkshire and a biographer of Robert Burns and co-editor of The Canongate Burns edition.
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